Shortlist of 'eccentrics' for Mercury music prize

The runners and riders for the most prestigious prize in the music calendar were announced yesterday and were promptly branded a group of British eccentrics by the chairman of the judging panel.

The runners and riders for the most prestigious prize in the music calendar were announced yesterday and were promptly branded a group of British eccentrics by the chairman of the judging panel.

This year's shortlist for the Nationwide Mercury music prize includes a teenage soul singer from rural Devon, a rock band without guitars, a dance group with a punk vocalist and a rapper so anti-bling he hangs around at bus stops.

The book-maker William Hill immediately listed the bus-stop rhymer (Mike Skinner, aka The Streets) and the avant-garde Glasgow art school rockers Franz Ferdinand as the joint favourites to win.

Simon Frith, chairman of the judging panel, admitted yesterday he had been slightly concerned that the past 12 months had not produced sufficient good music to make a strong short-list. He said: "There were no obvious albums being trumpeted. But ... the pattern is that every single person on this list is sort of eccentric in certain ways. It's very British."

Mr Frith said none of the nominated artists were conventional representatives of the genres they were most closely associated with. "Although they make music that can be marketed in terms of genre, they are all doing music which would not necessarily fit that genre."

Asked about the two early favourites, Mr Frith said both had demonstrated they could bring something fresh to the type of music they make. The Streets' new album A Grand Don't Come For Free could not be categorised as "a garage or British club scene album", the references associated with Skinner's earlier work, Mr Frith said. Franz Ferdinand, he said, brought a "sensibility" to their music that has not been seen on the Mercury shortlist since the days of Pulp and Suede.

At the announcement of the shortlist, one of the nominated bands, Belle & Sebastian, recognised the role of Franz Ferdinand in developing the Glasgow music scene, which has also helped to produce a third nominee, Snow Patrol.

Stuart Murdoch, Belle & Sebastian's singer-songwriter, said: "It has been quite a good time for Glasgow. Scene is always a difficult word but, led by Franz, it has been a good scene over the past couple of years. We have been hanging around like a bad smell for years and have finally got a nomination."

Liverpool's The Zutons had been lured to the ceremony under the impression that they were headed to a recording session. The drummer, Sean Payne, said he was pleased to be "recognised" by a competition that supported "real music". "When Roni Size won [The Mercury Prize], I had never heard of him before," he said. "It gets music that's underground to be listened to more."

Alex Kapranos, singer and guitarist for Franz Ferdinand, said: "It's a real vindication for the year's hard work we have just put in."

Last year's Mercury was won by the "grimy" rapper Dizzee Rascal. This year's shortlist was chosen from 1,800 albums released in the past 12 months by British and Irish artists. But in any list of great British musical eccentrics one name was conspicuous by its absence. Morrissey has made 2004 his return year, conquering Glastonbury, curating London's Meltdown Festival and releasing the acclaimed album First of the Gang to Die. The winner will be chosen on 7 September.

IN THE RUNNING

BASEMENT JAXX, Kish Kash

Previously shortlisted for the Mercury Prize for their album Rooty, the Brixtonduo, Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Buxton, are Britain's leading dance act. Their latest album features collaborations with as diverse singers as Siouxsie Sioux, Dizzee Rascal and Me'Shell Ndegeocello.

Judges' verdict: "British dance music is alive and kicking."

BELLE & SEBASTIAN, Dear Catastrophe Waitress

Another nomination for Glasgow's thriving music scene, the seven-piece band were formed in an all-night café eight years ago. Their sixth studio album was produced by Trevor Horn, once of Buggles.

Judges' verdict: "An enchanting reminder of the romance of witty and elegant pop songs."

FRANZ FERDINAND, Franz Ferdinand

The band of 2004 so far, their much-hyped debut album has lived up to all expectations and already sold more than a million copies since its release in February. At the forefront of a revived Scottish music scene, they were one of the most successful acts at this year's Glastonbury festival.

Judges' verdict: "Art pop masterpiece."

JAMELIA, Thank You

Still only 23, Jamelia has worked hard to claim her crown as the Queen of British R&B, and still found time to have a baby. Loved by the mainstream, the Birmingham girl's second album includes work with Coldplay's Chris Martin and So Solid Crew's Asher D.

Judges' verdict: "Urban music that sparkles with unusual subtlety and depth."

KEANE, Hopes and Fears

For a rock band, Keane have an unconventional line-up of vocals, piano and drums. The East Sussex group was formed in 1997 and were on tour in America last month when they heard Hopes and Fears had gone to number one in the British charts.

Judges' verdict: "A supremely confident debut unveiling a stunning new British rock voice."

SNOW PATROL, Final Straw

Originating in Northern Ireland but based first in Dundee - where Gary Lightbody and Mark McClelland were at university - and then in Glasgow, their rise has been gradual. Final Straw is their third album.

Judges' verdict: "An album with massive presence, immediately engaging the listener in the band's emotionally-charged songs."

JOSS STONE, The Soul Sessions

The success story of the 17-year-old Devon singer goes on. Inspired by her mother's record collection, her precocious talent was moulded into a remarkable album by the producer and soul legend Betty Wright and was critically-acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic.

Judges' verdict: "Remarkable showcase of classic soul power."

THE STREETS, A Grand Don't Come For Free

Mike Skinner is set for the top with his single "Dry Your Eyes". His first album, Original Pirate Material, was Mercury-shortlisted in 2002 but his follow-up made him a spokesman for his generation.

Judges' verdict: "A touching, funny and gripping story of life's frustrations in modern Britain."

TY, Upwards

Star of the Montreux festival in Switzerland, London rapper Ty is building a European fanbase before taking on America. A great live performer. His second album is on the same Big Dada label that produced another Mercury shortlisted rhymer Roots Manuva.

Judges' verdict: "A very British rap record - diverse and invigoratingly upbeat."

AMY WINEHOUSE, Frank

Feisty North Londoner Winehouse, 20, has an extraordinary vocal range. Her debut album is inspired by soul and jazz greats and captures the flavour of urban Britain. The track "Stronger Than Me" won her an Ivor Novello award for best contemporary songwriter.

Judges' verdict: "Raw emotions and an original take on jazz and R&B."

ROBERT WYATT, Cuckooland

Having hit fame with Soft Machine in the late Sixties, Wyatt, 59, has worked with Brian Eno, Elvis Costello and Paul Weller over 50 years. His album is his first in six years, with elements of jazz, folk and pop.

Judges' verdict: "Robert Wyatt's take on the world is gloriously idiosyncratic, passionate, gentle and inspiring."

THE ZUTONS, Who Killed... The Zutons

New stars of the Liverpool scene, the five-piece are two years old but have played Glastonbury and T in the Park. Influenced by Sly and The Family Stone and Devo, their producer is Ian Broudie of Lightning Seeds fame.

Judges' verdict: "Welcome to the exhilarating and spiky world of The Zutons, [with] catchy songs, primal guitars and saxophone."

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
    Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy